On learning the news that ‘we were pregnant with our first baby’, we signed up to One to One with the intention of learning hypnobirthing techniques, having antenatal appointments at home and then a ‘safe’ hospital birth.
Our original midwife was Gemma but as a result of her getting a new job 3 weeks before my due date we had to swap to Leanne at the last moment;
a midwife who I met at the hypnobirthing class a week before my due date!
Having talked our parents through the ethos of the One to One service very early on in my pregnancy, we were met with horrified reactions at the mere mention of a ‘homebirth’.
However, as time went on, we attended hypnobirthing classes and both came round to the idea of ‘oxytocin’s’, a calming environment, a nice warm ‘paddling pool’, hot and cold snacks on hand and a midwife giving ‘one to one’ care and who could reassuringly hold (our!) hands throughout the labour. However we decided not to discuss any thoughts in detail with our friends or family and let most people assume we would end up in hospital. The hospital bag was packed and we would just see how we felt on the night!
On Thursday the 7th November, two days after my due date I felt a gush of water along with mild infrequent contractions and at 5pm, Tammy a One to One midwife came to our house and examined me only to conclude it was probably my ever worsening leaky bladder and it was likely I had just wet myself. It was actually quite a comical moment as she inserted a mechanism resembling a duck’s beak inside me she then had to borrow my resourceful husband’s head torch to complete the internal … much to the delight of my aforementioned resourceful husband who assured me on numerous occasions a head torch in his bedside table would come in useful one day!
To pass the time we popped to a nearby retail park, wandered round a few shops and returned home to bounce on the birthing ball. At this point, the contractions were still 15 minutes apart and not consistent. We excitedly sent my sister Amy a text to tell her ‘we are in business ‘ and so she swiftly applied a full face of make up, red lips and donned a high bun then sped (very safely) from London to my mum’s in Widnes to be nearby for the birth of her first niece/nephew/future star of stage and screen!
We had no sleep that night as the contractions continued to come relentlessly every 15 minutes. On Friday, Leanne came to visit at around 3pm. I was at this point very tired and in pain; there was no cake baking or films for us as the contractions were far too frequent and I was too tired to do anything much other than pace around, bounce on the birthing ball, eat copious amounts of pineapple and drink raspberry tea in between contractions. By 5pm on the Friday evening I was a bit fed up and determined to bring the contractions closer together and so we went for a walk…it worked! The contractions were coming every 5 minutes and I was in agonizing pain, crawling around in car headlights leaning on my husband Rob! This is when we knew we were in business … The following few hours were spent upstairs and mainly went like this…bath, ball, bounce, tens machine and paracetamol…bath, ball, bounce, tens machine…you get the gist! By 10pm I was a Shriveled prune and in the worst pain imaginable. I was also very, very tired having clocked up 27 hours of contractions already. However I do remember a candlelit bathroom, music, lots of cold drinks, a fan and an orange ice lolly helping me through this part. Rob was also tired and decided to ring up Amy who, having slept in the full make up/high bun had now given up, lost patience and duly arrived at our house in her onsie and makeup-less face!
Rob being the emotional guy he is took this as his chance to pop to the local shop cash point for fear of us ending up in hospital (due to me being so exhausted by this point) and not having cash to hand for a drink (who knows his rationale?) He was overwhelmed at seeing the pain I was in and called his mum for a quick pep talk. By around 11pm I began to beg Rob to ring Leanne. The contractions were now 3 and 1/2 minutes apart and Rob being very sensible and playing by the rules would not ring Leanne until they were 3 minutes apart as per Leanne’s instructions (the first proper argument of our marriage ensues ….) So I win the argument and Leanne arrives at our house around midnight whereby she examines me on my bed and concludes I am 6cm dilated. I am thrilled, exhausted and in a world of pain but feel a shift in the labour and know I’m on my way to meeting my baby. The following hours are indescribable and it has taken me a while to write this story as I’m worried I cannot begin to put into words the magical experience and do it justice.
I made my way downstairs at around 2am and whilst I had been upstairs with Leanne, Rob and Amy had been busy in the living room blowing up the pool, lighting candles and our wedding playlist was playing. It truly was the most amazing, relaxing setting; the feeling of sinking into that birthing pool was better than a 5 star spa.
At 4am Amy told Leanne we had secretly been calling her names because she kept putting off giving me the gas and air! The gas and air was finally retrieved from Leanne’s car boot and it helped me to cope with those final few hours of agony (little did I know Leanne had the setting on low; it was a trick of the mind that worked!) Oxytocin kicked in and whilst I was in immense pain, I used the breathing techniques we had learnt in hypnobirthing. I stayed upright throughout and just let my body follow its instincts. I felt truly special having my husband and sister with me throughout and had so much faith and confidence in Leanne our midwife.
There was no mention of hospital and the hospital bag remained unopened in the hallway At 7.47am our son Freddie Ray Diamond Lee came into our lives; a ‘Ray’ of sunshine he came swimming up to meet us to the sound of Percy Sledge’s ‘When a man loves a woman’, the sun was shining in and it was an intense, beautiful setting right there in our dining room! True to form, there was also a humorous element when I couldn’t find him at the bottom of the pool that by now was resembling a large serving of sangria! Only now as I watch ‘one born every minute’ do I realise how lucky I was to be the first person to touch my son as he came into the world.
Leanne and Julie (Leanne’s support midwife) kept telling me how amazing I was doing throughout the labour… Only in the moments after I had safely delivered Freddie into the world could I indeed agree ‘I did do amazing didn’t I?’… queue the laughter! My mum arrived at our house ready to go to the hospital only for Amy to open the door with her grandson in her arms in a green towel (she will never let me forget there was no fluffy white towel and a clean baby in an incubator!)
The post birth check up took place on my living room rug (Leanne was very concerned we didn’t ruin it!!) and it revealed a 2nd degree tear but due to the daily, postnatal calls offered by Leanne, I didn’t need stitches. Instead, we could let it heal naturally which it did very quickly. It felt very surreal as we all sat there with tea and toast, I recall looking around my living room at Leanne, Julie, Amy and Rob thinking did this just really happen?! Having not particularly liked the idea of breastfeeding through pregnancy, Leanne suggested ‘popping him on’ after the birth and Freddie latched on no problem and we haven’t looked back since! So for the couple who wanted a safe hospital birth and the mum to be who wasn’t going to breastfeed, it has been a turn of events to say the least and it’s all down to the One to One service and our super, talented midwife Leanne Rendell whom we all think the world of.